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商业 - 消费品

可口可乐股权激励计划惹争议

Paul Hodgson 2014年04月28日

按照可口可乐最新的股权计划,它16%左右的股份将会专门用来激励公司管理层。可口可乐表示,83%的股东支持这项薪酬计划,但实际情况是,包括最大股东巴菲特在内,不少股东并不赞成。

    上周,在亚特兰大召开的年度股东大会上,可口可乐公司(Coca-Cola)备受争议的股权激励计划获得了多数股东的同意。但这项批准并非全心全意的支持。

    根据这项计划,可口可乐公司的管理层如果实现具体的绩效目标,就可以获得公司慷慨发放的股份。虽然有批评意见认为这个计划将严重稀释当前股东的持股,但它依然在公司年度大会上获得了通过。

    沃伦•巴菲特的保险集团伯克希尔•哈撒韦(Berkshire Hathaway)是可口可乐最大的股东之一,持有超过9%的股份。巴菲特也认为,股权激励计划有些过分,但他并没有投反对票,而是选择了弃权。

    其他更加坚定的股东则对这项计划投了反对票,其中包括佛罗里达州管理委员会(Florida State Board of Administration)、对冲基金Wintergreen Advisers和安大略教师退休基金(Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan)等。自从3月7日这项计划提上议事日程以来,Wintergreen Advisers便发起了一场反对它的代理人战争。加州州立教师退休系统(California State Teachers Retirement System ,CalSTRS)直到年度大会召开前的一天才突然改变态度,选择支持该计划。

    会议结束后不久,可口可乐公司就宣布了初步投票结果。结果显示,“可口可乐公司2014年股权计划”得到了“已投票数”83%的支持。但由于“已投票数”不包括巴菲特的投票和其他弃权股东,因此,这个数据看起来非常可疑。同时,这项数据还严重高估了计划获得的支持票数。事实上,昨天晚些时候提交给美国证监会(SEC)的正式投票结果显示,仅有不到一半的流通股对这项计划投了赞成票——准确地说是49.77%,其他股东均投了反对票、弃权票或根本没有投票。根据美国证监会的文件,可口可乐公司共发行了44亿股流通股。

    Wintergreen Advisers公司CEO戴维•温特斯在一份新闻通稿中表示:

    可口可乐的计划没有获得多数股东的支持,包括其最大的股东伯克希尔•哈撒韦。Wintergreen相信,没有哪家公司会在未获得多数股东支持的情况下执行股权计划,至少像可口可乐这样伟大的公司绝对不会这么做。很显然,可口可乐未能获得执行2014年股权计划的股东授权,因此,我们呼吁可口可乐公司董事会撤销或压缩这项计划。根据美国证监会的文件,按照截至2月20日的现行股权计划,可口可乐公司可发行超过6,600万股股票。我们相信,现有方案足以使可口可乐公司在继续发放股权激励的同时,制定一个对股东更有利的新计划。

    针对这种情况,合理的反应必然是寻找一种对股东有利的方式,尤其是没有获得最大股东同意的情况下。

    可口可乐公司的计划到底存在什么问题?

    之前,温特斯就谴责这项计划是将股东的价值转移给管理层。从根本上而言,为了用股份奖励高管和其他高级雇员,包括股票期权、业绩股票或限制股等,公司必须保留一定数量的股份作为奖励,而且,这么做需要获得股东同意。就可口可乐而言,反对该计划的股东认为,可口可乐用于奖励管理层的股票太多,从而会给股东造成损失——也就是所谓的“股权稀释”。

    新计划要求保留5亿股,但可口可乐已经发放了数亿股,因此股权稀释度还应该包括这些股份。事实上,可口可乐在其代理书中便有一个计算稀释度的公式。(其中仅有公式,但没有答案。)由于目前针对稀释度出现了各种各样的数据,因此,笔者使用可口可乐的公式进行了计算,得出的数据是15.9%。换言之,公司超过六分之一的股份将被预留,用于奖励管理层。

    许多可口可乐股东认为,公司的股权激励计划是在转移所有权,因此他们选择反对或弃权。两家代理投票咨询公司ISS和Glass Lewis(由安大略教师退休基金部分拥有)都没有通知客户投反对票,但许多股东依然选择了反对该计划。

    可口可乐公司给出了各种复杂的理由,来缓和这个数据带来的影响,但无论怎么解释,这家公司可能将有多达16%的股份只能被用于管理层。

    截至本文发稿前,可口可乐公司仍未应要求对此发表评论。(财富中文网)

    译者:刘进龙/汪皓

    Although Coca-Cola's (KO) controversial equity compensation plan was apparently approved by a majority of shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Atlanta this week, it appears to be a half-hearted approval.

    Under the plan, Coke's managers are to be paid generously with company shares if they achieve specific performance goals. Critics have said the plan would dilute the holdings of current shareholders too much, but it still passed at Coke's annual meeting.

    Warren Buffett's insurance conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) is one of the largest owners of Coke's stock, with a little over 9% of the company's shares. Buffett thought the compensation plan was excessive too, but instead of voting against it he, rather ineffectively, abstained.

    Other shareholders with stronger stomachs did vote against the plan, including the Florida State Board of Administration, Wintergreen Advisers -- which has been waging a proxy war against the plan since it was first proposed on March 7 -- and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. CalSTRS, the California State Teachers Retirement System, reversed its vote and approved the plan only days before the annual meeting.

    Coke's preliminary voting results, released shortly after the meeting, indicate that the "Coca-Cola Company 2014 Equity Plan," as it is officially called, was approved by 83% of the "votes cast." Since the "votes cast" excluded Buffett's votes, as well as any other abstentions, this figure looks questionable. It significantly overestimates the level of approval. In fact, the official vote count filed with the SEC late yesterday showed that less than half of the outstanding shares voted for the plan -- 49.77%, to be precise, with the rest opposing, abstaining, or simply not voting. Coke has 4.4 billion shares outstanding, according to SEC filings.

    In a release, David Winters, CEO of Wintergreen Advisers, LLC, said:

    Coca-Cola's plan failed to attract support from a majority of shareholders, including its largest shareholder, Berkshire Hathaway. Wintergreen believes that no company should implement an equity plan without the support of a majority of its shareholders, least of all a great company like Coca-Cola. It is clear to us that Coca-Cola failed to earn a shareholder mandate to fully implement the 2014 equity plan and we call on Coca-Cola's Board of Directors to withdraw or scale back the plan. According to SEC filings, Coca-Cola had more than 66 million shares available for issuance under existing equity plans as of February 20th, which we believe would allow it to continue to issue stock awards while developing a more shareholder friendly plan.

    A reasonable response to this would certainly seem the shareholder-friendly way forward, especially since the company's largest single shareholder disapproved.

    But what was the problem with the plan?

    Winters had earlier denounced the plan as a transfer of value from shareholders to management. Basically, in order to reward executives and other senior employees with stock -- stock options, performance shares, or restricted stock -- companies must reserve a certain number of shares to use as rewards, and they need to gain stockholder approval in order to do this. In Coke's case, the shareholders who voted against the plan felt Coke would be taking too many shares to give to management, and that shareholders would lose out as a result -- a process called "dilution."

    The new plan called for 500 million shares to be reserved, but there were already hundreds of millions of shares committed, so the dilution level had also to include those shares. Indeed, Coke included a handy formula for calculating dilution in its proxy. (It included the formula, but not the answer.) There have been as many figures for dilution thrown around, so using Coke's formula I performed my own calculation and came up with a figure of 15.9%. In other words, more than a sixth of the firm's stock will be set aside to reward management.

    Many Coke shareholders felt the company's compensation plan was a transfer of ownership, and they voted against it, or abstained. Neither of the two major proxy advisory firms -- ISS and Glass Lewis (which is partly owned by Ontario Teachers') -- told their clients to vote against the plan, but many did anyway.

    Coke has offered a lot of complicated reasons to mitigate this figure, but however you slice it, 16% of the company's shares could be used for management and for nothing else.

    Coca-Cola did not respond to a request for comment in time for this story's publication.

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